February 23, 2017 9:00AM
When auto tech faculty Mike Elder and Scott Norman met with junior Jonathan Robertson, they had good news and bad news.
“The good news was that Jonathan is going to Abu Dhabi,” Norman said. “The bad news was that he’s going to have to work very, very hard between now and when he goes.”
Robertson, an auto tech major from Blue Springs, Mo., will represent the United States in the automotive technology category at the 2017 WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The competition will take place Oct. 14-19.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, to be honest,” Robertson said. “To represent your country in a competition like this is something special.”
Robertson will be one of more than 1,000 competitors from 33 countries at the WorldSkills event, which features various categories such as aircraft maintenance, bakery, beauty therapy, visual merchandising and many more.
Elder, an assistant professor at PSU and the WorldSkills automotive expert, will work with Robertson to prepare him for the international competition.
“We’ve worked with students from across the country to prepare them for WorldSkills competitions, but there’s always something special about training one of your own students,” he said. “We’re very proud that a PSU student is representing the U.S. at WorldSkills, but it’s also a huge benefit because we can work with this guy every day.”
Robertson will also receive training during his summer internship at General Motors in Los Angeles, Calif.
“The purpose of the internship isn’t to train for the competition, but the work I’ll be doing will help teach me some things I will definitely need to know,” he said. “It will be a great experience for me in many ways.”
Norman, the technical delegate for the U.S. WorldSkills team, said that while Robertson will train in the U.S., he will need to learn international skills.
“I like to compare it to football,” he said. “You could be the best quarterback in the United States, throw a tight spiral, be extremely accurate. But if you go overseas and everyone is playing rugby, that’s a little different. So Jonathan will need to learn how things go in Abu Dhabi so he’s ready for that style of competition.”
Robertson, who describes himself as a “tinkerer,” said he’s excited for the challenge.
“I think one of my biggest strengths is that I don’t feel the pressure of competition,” he said. “I stay pretty calm. I do my best, and I know that good or bad, I’m going to have fun.”
He’s also excited for the opportunity to experience a new culture.
“I’ve never been outside of the United States, so this is very exciting for me,” he said. “I’m anxious to meet new people and just see a new culture.”
Robertson enrolled at Pitt State after graduating from Longview Community College’s General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program in 2016. He said he never questioned what his next move would be.
“All of the best automotive technology professionals in the Kansas City area went to Pitt State,” he said. “I knew that if I wanted to be the best, I had to go where the best go.”
For more information about WorldSkills, visit https://worldskillsabudhabi2017.com/en.